Fatty acid metabolism in pulmonary arterial hypertension: role in right ventricular dysfunction and hypertrophy

PVRI Member Authors: Anna Hemnes


Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a complex, multifactorial disease in which an increase in pulmonary vascular resistance leads to increased afterload on the right ventricle (RV), causing right heart failure and death. Our understanding of the pathophysiology of RV dysfunction in PAH is limited but is constantly improving. Increasing evidence suggests that in PAH RV dysfunction is associated with various components of metabolic syndrome, such as insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, and dyslipidemia. The relationship between RV dysfunction and fatty acid/glucose metabolites is multifaceted, and in PAH it is characterized by a shift in utilization of energy sources toward increased glucose utilization and reduced fatty acid consumption. RV dysfunction may be caused by maladaptive fatty acid metabolism resulting from an increase in fatty acid uptake by fatty acid transporter molecule CD36 and an imbalance between glucose and fatty acid oxidation in mitochondria. This leads to lipid accumulation in the form of triglycerides, diacylglycerol, and ceramides in the cytoplasm, hallmarks of lipotoxicity. Current interventions in animal models focus on improving RV dysfunction through altering fatty acid oxidation rates and limiting lipid accumulation, but more specific and effective therapies may be available in the coming years based on current research. In conclusion, a deeper understanding of the complex mechanisms of the metabolic remodeling of the RV will aid in the development of targeted treatments for RV failure in PAH.

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Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome, Diabetes and Dyslipidemias, Glucose and Glycoproteins
Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension
Right Ventricle: Structure, Function and Dysfunction


Megha Talati, Anna Hemnes

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Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 2 cover image

June 2015

Pulmonary Circulation Vol 5: No 2

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